Mastering Patent Assignments.

Patent assignments are crucial mechanisms in intellectual property management which enable the transfer of patent rights from one entity to another. Understanding how patent assignments work can significantly enhance your company’s intellectual property strategy.

This blog covers everything from the basics of patent assignment to how to ensure your company properly owns a patent.

What is a Patent Assignment?

A patent assignment involves the transfer of an owner’s right, title, and interest in a patent or patent application to another entity. This transfer grants the assignee the exclusive rights to pursue patent protection, and potentially license, and enforce the patent.

For a patent assignment to be valid, it must:

  • Be in writing, as oral agreements are not enforceable.
  • Identify all parties involved.
  • Detail the specific patent being assigned, including its number and title.
  • Include consideration, which can be nominal, such as $1.
  • Be signed by all involved parties, and ideally, notarized or witnessed to confirm validity.

Patent Assignment vs. Licensing

Unlike a license that allows the licensor to retain ownership and control over the patent, a patent assignment is a complete transfer of ownership. This is similar to selling a house vs. renting it out; the former is permanent while the latter is temporary.

What is Patent Ownership?

Patent ownership gives the owner the legal authority to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention. In corporate settings, patents are typically owned by the company if the inventors are employees and the innovations are made during their employment.

Employee Agreements Under Patent Assignments

To safeguard intellectual property, companies must have clear agreements with employees:

  • Employees should sign invention assignment agreements that specify any IP created during employment is owned by the company.
  • These agreements ensure the company retains control over inventions, even if an employee leaves the company.

How to Make Sure Your Company Owns the Patent?

  • Ensure all new inventions are accompanied by patent-specific assignments.
  • Regularly update and enforce employee IP agreements.
  • Record all assignments with the USPTO and relevant international bodies promptly.

Recording a Patent Assignment with the USPTO

Recording a patent assignment with the USPTO is essential to maintain clear ownership rights:

  • Assignments should be recorded within three months of their execution to ensure the assignee’s claim to ownership is protected.
  • This process helps prevent legal disputes over patent ownership.

Recording Patent Assignments in Foreign Countries

When dealing with international patents, it’s important to record assignments in the respective countries:

  • Some nations require specific documentation and procedures to recognize the assignment.
  • Failing to properly record an assignment can lead to enforcement issues abroad.

Searching for Patent Assignments

The USPTO maintains a patent assignment database, which provides information about all recorded patent assignments.
This database is useful for verifying ownership and ensuring that all assignments are duly recorded.


Effectively managing patent assignments is a critical aspect of a robust IP strategy. Ensuring proper assignment and recording procedures are followed can maximize the value of your intellectual property assets and enhance your company’s market position.

If you’re considering a patent assignment, consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney to navigate the complex landscape and safeguard your assets.

Contact Legal Advantage for expert guidance on patent assignments and to ensure your intellectual property is protected and strategically managed.